Closing of the UPU Global Conference on Cross-Border Cooperation in an E-Commerce World

Closing speech by the UPU Deputy Director General Pascal Clivaz, Xiamen, China, 27 November 2019

Mr. Ma, Junsheng,

Ambassador Bishar Hussein,

Partners, members, friends,

2019 will remain an historic year for the UPU. The year of celebrations: the celebration of 145 years of existence, the celebration of the successful 145 years of multilateralism. However, we are also celebrating the 20th anniversary of the 22nd Beijing Congress. 20 years after the Beijing Postal Strategy. Where are we now?

You all were witnesses. Again thanks to our Chinese friends, we were in the position to exchange and to debate during the last hours. E-commerce – the first priority given to us by our member countries during the last “ordinary” UPU Istanbul Congress in 2016.

This Xiamen initiative is the starting point for an in-depth dialogue on cross-border e-commerce. Who else but the postal sector would be a better partner? Who else but the UPU can be the go-between?

Solutions. Processes. We are all looking for the best scenario for the e-commerce world we live in. From the Pacific to the Caribbean, from China to Africa, and from Europe to China, we still have challenges ahead of us. When talking mail, we have shown the 145 years’ experience of the UPU. But the shift from traditional mail to goods has set up some barriers. This is understandable. Fully understandable.

Being a treaty-based organization, the UPU is also active in setting standards and/or developing digital solutions to update, and improving our worldwide network for the good of this planet’s citizens and customers. There is no need to recall the vision of our strategy.

“The postal sector can be an essential component of the development of different economies.” Like our friends and partners at WCO, INBC, OTIF, IATA, ICAO, and others, we are all trying to speed up and to standardise processes to provide optimized harmonized solutions to the market. And, the others? How many players, stakeholders are looking to be part of our dialogue? It is our responsibility to open the door to a common understanding and this Xiamen Conference was just an appetizer or “mise en bouche”.

Of course, the intergovernmental nature of the UPU will have to deal with the governance side of the opening up, but there is no doubt about the way forward. In this, we are confirmed also by the introductory words of the Director General of the State Post Bureau of China Mr. Ma: “The UPU is fully capable of looking into the future and to achieving all the advantages of one postal network. The Xiamen initiative will pave the way.”

Apart from the Post, the Customs are very strong, natural and solid partners in cross border cooperation. The exchange of data, the sharing of data, how to protect and secure it? These are the questions for intergovernmental organizations such as the UPU and WCO. Thanks to our WCO friends for collaborating with us, Madame Hinojosa, thanks for your presence, and thanks to our friends and experts in customs.

Security is another area of concern from IATA to INBC but also with others we need to improve. In doing so, to we must protect our citizens, customers, children, but also our economies.

Transport. With our partner airlines—IATA or ICAO—we need to strengthen our approach. Global solutions with airlines, global approaches with railways, and my thanks to the leaders of these organizations for joining this UPU Xiamen initiative.

Remuneration, business models. Designated operators have voices not only here, but in a lot of our meetings whether regional or global. We need to provide a sustainable business model. The margin is not the same when talking about mail compared to a more complex logistics treatment. To guarantee sustainable revenues is also essential when you need to invest. This is the same for the UPU. There is no difference with the business world.

E-tailers are the ones generating the market. Some are perceived or are already competitors when talking from the perspective of warehousing to fulfilment and distribution. This is why we should talk on a more global level. JD, ebay, Alibaba, Amazon, just to name a few players of the commerce of today, are known worldwide. When a Swiss, a French or a US citizen decides to buy, can we avoid them? No.

From the Xiamen initiative, we will bring back home these important messages. First, to continue the multilateral dialogue. Second, to enhance the crucial collaboration and to anticipate new trends, new regulations and possible barriers. Third, to find practical global solutions to be implemented at the local level. Also to innovate further to ensure seamless cross borders, but also domestic flows. Finally, to work together with efficiency and conscientiousness on the importance of the quality of our work to the market.

In reality, as a Chinese official already said, the world is quite simple. So let us join our hands in cooperation for a better future.

The UPU should find the right balance to mirror our world. In our draft original World Postal Strategy, we will have three pillars: the UPU to act as a forum, as it is the case today; the UPU to set up products and services; and last but not least, the UPU to be a knowledge centre.

From the treaty to the market, including governments, regulators, operators, partners. The next UPU Congress will have to decide on important agenda items such as e-commerce. E-commerce will stay on our work agenda. And that is for us the right occasion to echo the offer of Mr. Ma to host the next conference in 2021. Thank you in advance.